It’s been awhile since my last newsletter and things are both the same and not at all. For a minute, it felt like we had broken through to a new chapter of this pandemic; it’s become clear that we’re still very much in it.
And while this summer has been great, it has also been non-stop: things to do, people to see, places to go, priorities to manage. The other night, as we were cleaning up from backyard wine with friends, I held Rob by the shoulders and said, “I’m just really, really tired.” A few minutes later, Anne Helen Petersen’s latest newsletter popped up with the subject line: “You’re Still Exhausted.” It was everything I have been feeling, expressed more elegantly than I ever could:
“But I think the real problem is that life is still exhausting because the pandemic was and remains exhausting in so many invisible ways — and we still haven’t given ourselves space to even begin to recover. Instead, we’re just softly boiling over, emptying and evaporating whatever stores of energy and patience and grace remain.”
Every few days, I have a couple hours where I find it hard to catch my breath. I force myself to slow down and avoid trying to gulp in big lung fulls. This scares me. It also reminds me that even though we fill our lives with delicious food, wonderful friends, and joyful kids, we exist in a state of prolonged crisis and that has an effect, physically and mentally.
All that said, we’ve got a month left before Labor Day and school begins and my plan is to cancel some plans, turn off some screens (starting with a short hiatus from IG!), and take deep, slow breaths. Here are some things giving me joy right now:
Olympic feelings: Like everything right now, this Olympics is complicated. I’ve been watching with the usual awe and happy tears but also feeling unsettled by the empty stands and the knowledge that they’re competing under such challenging circumstances. Also seeing Tokyo 2020 is a mindf*ck every time.
On the other hand, maybe I’m projecting but the athletes seem much more friendly than past years, cheering and consoling each other, even sharing gold medals. Like the entire world, I’ve been captivated by Simone Biles and her incredible grace on and off the podium; to catch up, listen to The Daily on why she’s the GOAT, then read this New Yorker piece on why her decision not to compete was so radically courageous. It’s also one thing to watch these athletes in real-time but when you see their movements broken down you realize how truly extraordinary they are: I love these NYT interactive pieces about Sunisa Lee’s mind-boggling bars routine and Dalilah Muhammad ability to float over the hurdles without breaking stride.
Houseguest staples: We’ve been going away most weekends and have our routine down: Rice & Miso bento boxes for the car, screen loaded up with Star Wars and Octonauts, and cooler full of food essentials. We always arrive with a giant amount of cold brew (we use a Toddy and Go Get Em Tiger beans), homemade granola, and wine to ensure that we get an invite back.
Crowdsourced bike shorts: Now that I’m 38, there are plenty of trends I don’t even attempt. But I have been very intrigued by bike shorts because a) I love exercising and b) it’s hot! After extensive research (i.e. asking stylish friends on all ends of the age spectrum), I settled on the Girlfriend high-rise bike shortplus their high-rise run short. From my expert panel: the former are more on trend and could be paired with a matching sports bra and jean jacket for fashion (thanks, Nandita!) and the latter are more sporty Spice (thanks, Rob!).
Making mermaid dreams a reality: It is not often that I can deliver on Lilly’s most outlandish desires — but it turns out that “goggles with rainbow gems” are very much within reach. She is obsessed with these Super Smalls “Mermaid in Training” goggles and wore them for a marathon pool session without any discomfort. Beware: Once you discover Super Smalls, you will end up buying way too many gifts and treats for the kiddos in your life; how cute are these Days of the Week Lip Balms?
Tinned fish, obvi: Tinned fish are definitely having a moment but I’m predicting that it’s here to stay. We always have them on hand so we can toss them on top of grain bowls, or throw together a happy hour spread (just add bread, butter, and salt! Bonus if you have parsley). I recently tried Fishwife and am happy to report that the fishies are as excellent as the brand (which is one of the best I’ve seen in recent memory). They just launched sardines and I wasted no time order nine (yes, nine) tins. Use code MOLLIE15 for 15% off and let me know what you think!
Current afternoon pick-me-up: I’m a big fan of the Sakara team and think they doing an amazing job creating innovative, tasty, and good-for-you food and wellness products. I ordered their Metabolism Bar right when it came out and then was very sad when it immediately sold out. Now it’s back and I suggest you give it a try; it’s a dense, slightly fudgy bar that is my ideal afternoon snack. Use XOMOLLIE for 20% off your first order.
Outdoor cooking MVPs: Cooking inspiration is still at a low but we have been enjoying eating as many meals outside as possible. Two of our MVPs: first, a grill basket to ensure that green beans, potatoes, and other vegetables don’t slip through the grates; second, Rob’s beloved Ooni pizza oven, which is easy to use and turns out perfectly charred pies. Oh, and of course our Thermacell Mosquito Repeller — it really works!
Superkind, super tasty cookies: Earlier this year, my friends Dawn and Matt started a Santa Monica-based cookie business and I’ve been jealously watching my West Coast friends enjoy them. But they just launched nationwide shipping, which means I can get my hands on Dawn’s obsessively tested and perfected chocolate chip cookie, as well as the very-fun-looking confetti cookie and salted peanut butter dealie. They also partner with Cookies for Kids’ Cancer and donate a portion of every sale toward funding pediatric cancer research.
SPF that even kids love: Trust Hayley to find a SPF that kids will willingly — even happily — put on. She turned me on to Supergoop’s genius SPF 50 Glow Stick, which is an absolute delight to apply and makes summertime with kids about 50% less frustrating. I also stocked up on their Unseen Sunscreen for everyday bopping around Brooklyn.
Great kid stuff, all in one place: I recently finished an exciting project with Maisonette and not only was I super impressed by the team and their goal (create a one-stop shop for quality kid stuff! Why doesn’t this exist already?) but I also fell in love with their cute and high-quality in-house clothing brands. Neon Rebels is a pattern, print, and color wonderland, while Maison Me has nicely designed staples and special-feeling items. I’m planning to stock up on some back-to-school rainbow dresses and fun tutus for Lilly and happy-birthday jammies for Finn. And while Lilly doesn’t technically need a backpack, I might have to get this State one for her…ooh and this cool lunchbox! Feel free to use code MOLLIECHEN15 for 15% off your first order till end of August.
Thank you for reading and see you soon.